project image
Petra Kuppers

first performed on May 1, 2013
a community pool, Berkeley, CA
performed six times in 2013


Berkeley, CA / Ann Arbor, MI


“Salamander” is a community performance project. We use small, intimate performances in pools and natural bodies of water, underwater photography, dry performance workshops, creative writing, clay work and video to find our disabled beauty emerging from the deep, from the wild aesthetic of water, deforming ourselves through sleek, unhinged control. Since May 2013, disabled people and their allies from around the world have climbed into waters with us and we’ve floated together, enjoying freedom and adventure.

There is little instruction in the improvisation scores: the water is the director and the choreographer as we twist freely in gravity, trusting each other and exploring the integrity of our bodies. We chat while we are in the water and explore the easy flow of communication in the fluid medium of supportive water. The emphasis is on play and process.

In a poem on the “Salamander” list-serv that accompanies our art/life project, Neil Marcus, a spastic performance artist, writes about the importance of touch and about touch through water. With “Salamander,” we are translating these touch erotics into a different realm of calming pressure.

After our performance engagements, we gift underwater photos to our participants, witnesses that allow us to see ourselves deformed and transformed in ways that humans hardly ever see each other. There is beauty in the loss of control, in the letting go, in giving ourselves over to new pressures. The images speak to the power of transformation, to the way we are in performance process and to how we can open ourselves to being touched by the world.